toyota iq 13l geneva live 001
Toyota's iQ may have won over Japan's critics, but now it will have to win over the public all around the worldEnlarge Photo
The version spotted is a concept and not a production model, although this is the strongest indication yet that the diminutive hatch will finally be heading to U.S. showrooms. One reason why it likely won’t be badged as a Toyota is because its low fuel consumption rating could end up luring away customers from the more expensive Prius , as well as the slightly bigger Yaris.
The iQ could be a perfect addition for the Scion brand. Its expected price tag of less than $15,000 coupled with its young and hip styling could generate the same excitement that the original xA and xB models did when they were launched earlier this decade.
Compared to the semi-successful 'smart' minicar, the iQ is also more practical and is expected to be more fuel efficient.
One of the biggest hurdles is that the car would need to be modified extensively to meet American safety standards. The iQ is fitted with a total of nine air-bags, including the world's first rear-window curtain air-bag, but if it were to be sold in the U.S. it would need better reinforcements at the back. One solution is to remove the back seat and make the car a strict two-seater in the same vein as the Smart ForTwo but Toyota is keen to keep the four-seat layout. All should be revealed next week at the New York event.